My love affair with Turkey started back in 1998, when Sean, my other half, and I went to Marmaris on a package holiday. It was our first holiday abroad together since we had got married 17 years earlier and we were too busy, or should I say too poor, rearing four daughters to travel.
In spite of the extreme heat, we had a wonderful time, we did all the tourist things, including a jeep safari and also did a two day trip to Ephesus and Pammukale. We watched a concert rehearsal in an amphitheatre and shopped til Sean dropped. As you may guess, shopping is not his favourite activity.
However, it was when we returned in 2002, when we returned again with our four teenage daughters and my niece, that we really fell in love with Turkey.
Two of our girls had done their Leaving Certificate exams and so had my niece, so we decided to bring them to Icmeler, near Marmaris, for a holiday while they awaited their results and university placements.
We had arrived on a night flight and our youngest wasn't feeling very well. We checked into our apartments and decided that we would have a lazy day at the pool instead of going to bed. We would then go out for a meal and have an early night.
This we duly did. We came back to the apartment but stopped at a little shop to buy cold drinks. Our youngest promptly threw up all over the place outside the shop. The shopkeeper immediately rushed out to render assistance in the form of lemon cologne! One whiff of this and she came to.... very quickly!
The shop owner "Lovely Jubbly" as he soon became known to us became Laura's champion for the rest of the holiday. Everytime Sean went to the shop, he came home with a lollipop or fruit for Laura. She had become a favourite, in spite of leaving him a present he didn't want on their first meeting!
However, this is not the amazing story of the night. We arrived back at our apartment and Sean discovered his credit card was not in his pocket. Doing our best not to panic, 5 girls and no money, we made our way back to the restaurant in case he had left the card there.
Unfortunately, they had not seen it and were a little concerned in case we thought they had taken it. Sean, explained he had it in a seperate wallet in his pocket and it must have fallen out.
We were asked about where we had been, having explained we had taken the dolmus (local minibus) and gone straight back to the apartment. The owner, took off his apron and showed us to his car and drove us to the bus station. There, having ascertained the time and place of pick up we were told that particular driver had gone off duty and lived in a village 5km away in the hills.
The restaurant owner then insisted on driving us there, found the dolmus owner in the local cafe. He then went to his dolmus and opened it, and there on the floor under the seat where we had been sitting, was Sean's card. We were then driven back to our apartment.
This story sums up the warmth and friendliness of many turkish people and why I love the country so.